Public Safety

Cedar Rapids woman charged with killing her boyfriend paid bail with help from her attorney

Jacqueline Holmes
Jacqueline Holmes

CEDAR RAPIDS — A woman charged with fatally stabbing her boyfriend in March is again out of jail after paying the required percentage of her $75,000 bail with the help from an unusual source — her public defender.

Last month, 6th Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady lowered the $750,000 bail to $25,000 for Jacqueline Holmes, 36, charged with first-degree murder, but she was arrested the day after posting bail for violating pretrial release. She picked up a new charge for attempting to take an eyebrow razor and cigarette lighters into the Linn County Jail.

Grady raised her bail to $75,000 on the murder charge and $5,000 on the possession of a weapon in a correctional facility. To be released pending trial, she had to pay 10 percent of both for a total of $8,000.

On Monday, she did just that. Her lawyer, Tyler Johnston, paid $4,781, and a woman, Ann Smith of Chicago, paid $3,219 — which included bail for both charges. The Gazette asked some legal experts if this was unusual or a conflict that her attorney helped pay her bail. Nobody had a definitive answer, and the Iowa State Public Defender’s Office didn’t return a phone message left Friday.

Johnston didn’t immediately reply to an email request for comment.

Two defense lawyers, who had no connection to this case, said they thought it could be a conflict but couldn’t say if it would be a formal violation.

David O’Brien, a Cedar Rapids lawyer, said lawyers are not supposed to give anything of value to their clients other than covering court costs, and he didn’t think bail would be considered a court cost.

“The problem is when a lawyer uses his or her own money to post bail for a client ... it creates a situation where the lawyer’s interests may be adverse to client, particularly if the client fails to honor the bond or comply with the conditions of release,” said Guy Cook, a Des Moines lawyer. “Simply put, there are too many risks for a conflict of interest.”

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Holmes is accused in the death of her boyfriend, Tremaine Williams, 35, on March 4. The fatal stabbing happened after Holmes had been playing cards and drinking alcohol with Phillip Rogers and others at his home in the 700 block of Eighth Avenue SW, according to court documents.

Police arrived about 4:25 a.m. and found Holmes sitting over the “bloodied” body of Williams, who was taken to the hospital and died an hour later.

Witnesses told police Holmes becomes “belligerent” when she drinks in excess, although nothing unusual happened when the card game broke up, according to court documents.

A search warrant affidavit showed three 911 calls were made, and on the third call Holmes spoke with a dispatcher. She was crying and said her fiance’s chest wasn’t “rising.” The dispatcher tried to walk her through CPR, but she said she couldn’t do it because Williams had a laceration near his shoulder.

When interviewed by police, Holmes changed her story several times. She admitted to stabbing Williams and then recanted. She then said she wasn’t sure if he was stabbed or shot. Holmes also said Williams assaulted her by punching and kicking her in the head, legs and neck.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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